Have Fun on a Budget

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There are plenty of ways to avoid paying full price on entertainment, especially in big cities.  It’s not hard to find local theater, concerts, and sports that are inexpensive – think local little theaters, colleges, high schools, and minor league sports.  As always, big cities offer more options, but that doesn’t have to mean expensive.  Here is how you can have fun on a budget.

Know where to go for great deals:

  • https://www.goldstar.com/signup – Partners make their tickets available to Goldstar’s members at half-price as a way to introduce new audiences to theater, concerts, comedy, and sporting events. Free sign-up gets you a weekly email about half-price events in your area.
  • http://www.fillaseat.com/ and http://seatstir.com/ – I’ve become a big fan of this service. For one annual membership fee, you can get FREE tickets to entertainment events for a full year.  Venues provide free tickets when they have empty seats they want to fill with new customers.  Most events include theater, concerts, comedy clubs, and dance, but you never know what may turn up now and then.  Don’t expect Broadway shows, but my wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed checking out many of the regional theaters.  Date nights are a lot more often when they are FREE!
  • http://www.gofobo.com/ – Free movies are good, too. Find free movie previews before they open to the general public.  Did you ever wonder how the movie critics could write about a movie before it opened?  Well, distributors provide showings and sometimes the extra seats are made available to the rest of us for free.  Other times free previews are made available to see how the film will be received or to create some buzz.
  • http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ – The Smithsonian museums have to be the best collection of free museums anywhere, but they also sponsor a free museum day with other participating museums throughout the country. Many cities have free museum days; search “free museum day …. your city”.
  • http://museums.bankofamerica.com/ – 150+ museums are free the first weekend of the month for BoA cardholders. Many other museums offer their own free admission on certain days of the week or month so check any time you are in a new town.
  • http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm – Our country has decided that even most of our national parks must scrounge around for money, but some days are free. See when here.
  • Get multi-packs of discounted movie tickets at many websites, warehouse clubs, recreation associations, and employer organizations.
  • Tunes for free – Radio is free, but can be limited in some areas. Many free internet music websites are available with many more music options and customization of your favorites.  Among my favorites are services that let you listen to real radio stations throughout the world.


Eat Out on a Budget

When you have scored a free or half-priced show or concert, date night can easily include dinner, too – especially when dinner is also half price!  You can find coupons for the national restaurant chains by subscribing to their email lists, on the web, and in local newspapers.  It’s also easy to get deals for local restaurants, starting with coupons in your mail from advertising flyers or coupon packets.  But the easiest way to eat cheap is to get deals from one of the growing list of “local” deal sites including these:

http://www.restaurant.com/ may be the site with the biggest selection of discount restaurant certificates.  It can be kind of a pain to use with its varying minimums, but it’s easy to search by zip code or city so I often get a certificate before I go on vacation.  It’s extra nice when you use your AARP or other discount to get an even cheaper certificate.

Guys, there is no excuse when date night is this easy on the wallet and with deals like these, the ladies may even pay.  Sorry, I couldn’t find any half-price baby sitters and even if I did, you wouldn’t necessarily want them!  So have fun on a budget.

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